When the U.S. Marine Band fills the Lied Center with patriotic tunes this week, the two Jayhawks in the band won't be there.
They have important duties back in Washington.
"We have to be there to cover anything that comes in to the White House," said Master Sgt. Cindy Dary Rugolo, a flutist who graduated from Lawrence High School in 1979 and Kansas University in 1983. "We have to be operational 52 weeks out of the year."
Rugolo and Master Sgt. Max Cripe, a 1984 graduate of KU, both play in the band, and will be among the third of "The President's Own" Marine Band that's staying back when the rest of the band goes on tour this fall. The tour comes to KU at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Widely regarded as one of the best -- if not the best -- concert band in the world, the Marine Band provides music for presidential events, including state dinners, military funerals, inaugurations and receptions.
"It's one of the finest musical ensembles I've ever played with," Rugolo said. "I still count myself lucky to be part of it. Where else are you going to play with musicians of this caliber?"
Rugolo, 43, has been with the band since July 1993, after playing with the East Texas Symphony and the Dallas Wind Symphony.
Cripe, 42, is a native of Garden City and the principal French horn player. He joined the band in 1988 after studying music at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and playing in the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
Band members keep busy with regular concerts and appearances in a variety of smaller ensembles. Each offers an opportunity to see some of the world's most powerful people and well-known celebrities.
"You're witness to a lot of history," Rugolo said.
A favorite moment for Cripe was touring the Soviet Union in 1990. The band was one of the first Western military groups allowed in the country. Another favorite moment was playing at the one-year anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, with the stage in the pit that formerly was the foundation for one of the World Trade Center towers.
The job has its lighter moments, as well. Rugolo said she remembered seeing Fred Rogers, the TV educator known for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," a few weeks before he died. While most of the White House guests were milling around the room during a reception, Rogers stood near the band and applauded politely after the numbers.
Though much of what the band does is fairly consistent, the details do change with a change in administration, Cripe said.
|The U.S. Marine Band makes a tour stop in Lawrence at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lied Center.All free tickets have been distributed, but seats not filled at 7:15 p.m. will be opened to the general public. A Lied Center representative said there is no limit to how long someone can stand in line waiting for a seat.|
"Reagan tended to have a lot of grand social events -- large events that would call for both the full band and orchestra," Cripe said. "There were many more state dinners with heads of state. Bush, the father, did a few less of those types of events.
"Bill Clinton, during his first term, did a lot less of the larger events, but started building up so that in his second term he did quite a bit."
World events, such as the 9-11 terrorist attacks, can also affect how often the band is called upon.
"After 9-11 struck, for a couple years afterward, (George W. Bush) had events but not as many of the really large events," Cripe said. "With the nature of governing during a time of war, some of the big social events got pushed aside."
Despite being in the White House on a regular basis, Rugolo said she's yet to get used to it.
"Most people go to the White House once, maybe twice, in their life," she said. "I'm there all the time. And I still get excited every time I go."
Both Rugolo and Cripe said they had no plans to leave the Marine Band.
James Barnes, a KU music professor who taught both Rugolo and Cripe, said having two alumni in the Marine Band was a feather in the cap of the KU School of Fine Arts.
"The Marine Band was standing by the speakers' stand when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address," Barnes said. "The Marine Band is a national treasure. It's not part of American history. It is American history."